Transcription service cuts "professional transcriptionists'" effective hourly wage from $6.35 to $4.50

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If I were a $4.50 transcriptionist, you’d get a solid minute of accurate transcription at either end, with a lot of lorem ipsem in between.


I hate to hear of a service that might be useful to me at the same time I learn why I shouldn’t use it.


This will get worse. Hospitals have been outsourcing transcription to India and to the Caribbean. This will mess up our medical records, as will voice software. My younger sister has been a medical transcriptionist for over 30 years and manages to keep her pay rate only because she transcribes tapes for foreign doctors with bad accents and limited English skills.

Next field for wage cuts may well be telephone customer service. Software for CS is available and improving. Voice menus are increasingly complex and probably will take the place of tech support at bottom feeders like HP.


As someone who’s done the phone based support job, let me just say that it’s terrible work with a significant and difficult amount of emotional labor, and I’d be happy to see it get automated out of existence.


And we’ve all paid about $14,000 an hour for transcribing Drumpf’s call with Ukraine.

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Just noticed the tagline on Rev’s twitter banner: “Squeeze more value from your audio and video content.” It sounds like they’re more focused on squeezing the will to live out of underpaid workers.


“Rev freelancers have full control over what jobs they decide to work on. They can accept or reject any projects without consequences as well as set preferences indicating what jobs they choose to accept, with full control over all parameters including file types, audio length, and pay.”

Translation: “The people who hire on here because they can’t find a decent job and are desperate for any income they can get have full control over whether or not they starve or try to keep going on a pay rate that’s now just barely adequate for them live on cat food.”

There, fixed it for you.


Interesting. I’m heading up a project right now that involves closed captioning for live broadcasts and the costs are astronomical. We ran some side-by-side tests of our CC service along with (AI-based Google API), YouTube’s self-captioner and our in-house transcription team (they work overnight for next-day publishing).

The AI captioning is fantastic overall if 100% accuracy isn’t needed. Missing are those subtle things a human captioner/transcriber would include, like who is speaking, if there’s music and so on. There’s all these little things a human does that makes the end result that much more readable.

With the high cost of live captioning my boss was toying with going all AI - even getting rid of our in-house transcribers… but my tests were compelling enough to show that AI is NOT the way to go for our particular effort - accuracy is vital. Then there’s the whole kettle of fish regarding accessibility issues and is it OK to put out captions that fall far short of what … by convention (but not law in these parts) should be expected.

I’m hoping we can get our in-house transcription staff up to speed to also provide live captioning and that would solve all our problems (as well as creating a job or two at wayyyyy more than $6/hr).


Hey those employees were given all the possible options - they can take it or they can leave it.

Anyone who thinks there is some crazy third option where employees can bargain for fair wages is obviously living in a fantasy. /s


While I personally won’t enjoy it being harder as a customer to reach a real person, my (many years past) experience working customer service brings to mind any number of horrible, abusive (the “emotional labor” you refer to I think relates to this?) customers for whom I can only feel pure schadenfreude when thinking of them getting caught in an endless hell of voice prompts & menus.


The twitter thread at the end is enlightening. Not only was it nearly impossible to GET those really high paying jobs, anyone who came into the gig company later didn’t have the reviews to win the bids on them, so they were still shut out and forced to work for the low fees.

Look, the whole gig/sharing economy was a noble experiment. It was highjacked by venture capitalist vultures who saw vast profits off cheap labor. It’s a failure. Burn it to the ground and start over.


$6.75 (not $6.35) to $4.50

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I’ve had jobs taking support calls, so it makes me more critical of automated systems. What seems worse lately are systems designed to guess the reason for the call - and they are never right. After being forced to give an account number, I start receiving account information I neither asked for, nor want to hear over the phone. The length of the guessing phase is getting longer, which increases frustration. If the system finally gives the option to speak to a person, the call is disconnected at some point and the process has to be repeated.

After reading articles that say customers are being recorded while on hold, it seemed like a fun idea to give constructive criticism while waiting. My absolute favorite is being repeatedly instructed to contact customer service online while I’m on hold trying to report a power outage. :roll_eyes:

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Yeah the guessing phase really is a problem.

What I personally really hate is when the automated system asks for account info, and you give it, and it positively IDs you and works, then transfers you to a human who then asks for your GODDAMN ACCOUNT INFO AGAIN.

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Yeah, I’ve come to expect that one. The worst is the menu without a “none of the above” option, or where pressing 0 to escape doesn’t work. I called a company about a bill, and there were only four menu options - none of which was billing. I had to pick something else and describe why I was calling to the person in another department.

All phone jobs are desperation jobs, usually filled by the chronically unemployed and/or undereducated, or by the newly fired. All of us hated the job, all of us needed the pay.

As a former switchboard operator (90% of those jobs already have disappeared), I stay furious at bad menus, scripts, and phone systems which loop you back to three unanswered phones. IRS, that means you!

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Rev is hardly alone in this, and the pay cut is really just the tip of the iceberg. I posted an essay on transcription companies a while back (I also submitted it to Boing Boing, but I’m not bitter–I’m sure it was just too avant-garde ;). Speechpad is the company I’ve worked for, in case anyone’s curious. They’re better than Rev, which is only to say they deserve a slightly sharper pitchfork.

Funny thing is, I’ve long wanted to give this work a shot. I a previous job I dealt with transcripts on the tech/video side, and would often ponder the random people that transcribed our interviews. The painful experience of Premiere’s caption editing “interface” left me wondering if I would be good enough at it to be worth doing, if given non-hostile software.

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